Monday, December 10, 2012

PrePopulate SharePoint List Form Data (On Line Version) - Part 1

One recent project had a requirement where when a new list item was created, several pieces of information needed to be populated based on the logged in user (this is for SharePoint Online in Office 365). There are several great articles dealing with this utilizing InfoPath (credit here to Laura Rogers at However there is a way to accomplish this without having to create an InfoPath Library and just using a SharePoint list (my approach is to stay simple until I absolutely have to make things more complex).

The first thing to create is the source list. Meaning the list that ties the user account to the data I wish to prepopulate in my list. Create a SharePoint Custom list (in my example titled: Source List) with the following columns:  Department column (single line of text), and then a Users column which is a Person or Group column. (Please note for the Show field option at the bottom of the Person or Group column, select Account- this is specifically for Office 365 SharePoint):

Now, it is time to create the list that this information will be supplied to. Just for an example, I will create a list titled Comments with the following columns: Submitter Name (single line of text), Department (lookup to the Source list created above utilizing the department column) and Comments (mulitiple lines of text):

From the Ribbon bar at the top, select the List tab:

Select Customize Form in the Customize List section (Please note for this feature to be enabled, InfoPath Designer 2010 must be installed on the computer) :

InfoPath Designer 2010 will open the form for the Comments list.

The first thing needed is to prepopulate the Sumitter Name column with the Account Name from the logged in user. There are several ways to approach this and one of the simplest (because I like simple) is to set the default value of the Submitter Name column from a Form Load Rule.

On the Ribbon Bar in InfoPath, select the Data tab:

Then select Form Load in the Rules section:

Under the Form Load Rules, select the New drop down and then select Action:

Enter text to the Details for column (in this example I entered PopulateSubmitterName to remind me of the purpose of this rule):

Leave the Condition as the default and Rule type is Action. Select the Add drop down and select set a Field's value:

The Rule Details screen will appear. Leave Action set to Set a field's value. For the Field selection, select the icon on the right

and select the name of the field to pre-populate - in this case Submitter Name.

For the Value selection, select the fx icon on the right hand side

On the Insert formula screen, select Insert Function:

Select Insert Function:

For Categories, select User and then for Functions select userName and select Ok 3 times:

Finally, Quick Publish the new form to the list by selecting the icon at the top of the page:

Now when the form loads, the User Name is displayed:

A couple of things to keep in mind. The User name is a little different than on premise as I am using an Office 365 setup for this demonstration - which limits how an account can be pulled into the form some.

Also, a condition may need to be set so that the submitter name is only entered if the field is blank.

In part 2 of this series, I wall through populating the Department name based on the Source list where we tied the username to an actual Department.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Lync and Learn Session

I look forward to leading the Lync and Learn session for the Office 365 community. The past few months have kept me incredibly busy with a SharePoint migration and I have had little time for blogging. My plan is to get back in the blogging mode over the next few weeks.

Tomorrow, I will be providing a high level overview of SharePoint in Office 365. Most users come to Office 365 because of email and basically inherit a SharePoint site. Many times companies do not know what to do with the site and it sits unused. I hope to demonstrate 5 instant collaboration tools in SharePoint that can be used right out of the box.

Link for session info.

Hope to see you online!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Microsoft Surface Screen Shot

One of the first challenges that I faced with the new Microsoft Surface is how to take a screen shot. Well, the good news is that it is pretty simple (and the source I used can be found here).

To Accomplish thi:
  • Go to the screen that you wish to screen shot
  • Press the volume down button (on the side of the Surface) and the Micrsosoft logo button that is on the bottom part of the tablet at the same time
  • The screen will dim just for a second
  • The screen shot will not appear under Photos, Screen Shots

Monday, November 26, 2012

Surface Tablet - a 360

The last few weeks have been hectic with a SharePoint migration but I now have time to write a new post. On my last post I stated how I was going to wait on purchasing a Windows Tablet. Well I have now done a 360 degree turn and own a Microsoft Surface tablet. Let me provide my reasoning.

I was looking for a portable device that I could carry with me most days rather than my laptop. My daily activities include email, Lync, One Note and accessing files via Office (utilizing Sky Drive). SharePoint Development is not something that I will do on a tablet (RT or otherwise). Given this scenario, the Surface table (running RT) would work very nicely for me.

Last week I purchased the Surface Tablet and admit that I am happy with it. The keyboard is nice and I am getting accustomed to typing on it. The performance has been good and I am able to now work on the go without always carrying my laptop.

The negatives have been published by many and I confirm that the app availability leaves a great deal to be desired. Price point is a little higher than I think it should be.

At this point Microsoft still has not released a time frame for the Surface Pro version but if you are looking for a device that can help in managing emails, utilize Lync and Office then the RT Surface is something to seriously consider.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Windows 8 Tablet

I'll admit it, I have been anxiously awaiting the new Microsoft Surface tablet. Other tablets have been tried - iPad and even Android but I need something to help me be more productive and those just didn't cut it (however if I needed to just fill time on a flight across the country, either would fit the bill).

The new Microsoft Surface tablet appealed to me because of the integration of Office (not to mention the cool looking keyboard/case).

Launch of the Surface is tomorrow and I have decided to ...... wait on purchasing a tablet.

I have been asking myself the hard questions such as what will I truly be doing with the Tablet. Mostly email responses, some Lync and basic communication. Given that criteria the RT version of the Surface will fit my needs. Yet, the price point feels too high for me. Not just the Microsoft Surface table price but also many of the competitors. The Dell Windows 8 tablet is pricey as well. At this price point, the tablets are encroaching on the price point of some of the lightweight laptops - with the laptops I get the full OS version, not just RT.

My understanding is that many new Windows 8 tablets will be released between now and January (not to mention that AMD has a tablet chip product being released in January). For now I wait and see. Not easy to do but given the uncertainty of the product offerings at this very moment (and the higher than anticipated price tag) - the right decision for me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Anonymous Access SharePoint Office 365 Public Web Site

One question that I am asked alot is about SharePoint functionality in the public web site for Office 365. This week, I came across a very interesting solution on CodePlex here (I did not develop this solution, rather ran across it and wanted to share my findings). Through implementing this solution, I have been able to share a SharePoint calendar on the public facing site (please note there is some limited functionality) and several other items/lists. If you are struggling with this issue, as many are, this is a solution worth checking out.

Friday, September 28, 2012

SharePoint Office 365 External User Filter

A current project of mine has a rather routine requirement, filtering web parts on the page by the current user. This is a relatively simple requirement to fulfill in that I add a User Filter web part to the page and connect this to the other web part(s) on the page. However, Office 365 allows for this SharePoint site to be shared to outside users and that is where things became interesting.

Many people read a blog to quickly find out how to solve a problem. In respect to that, I am going to detail how I solved the problem first. Further down in the article I provide some reference and background to show how I arrived at this solution.

To filter web part(s) based on current user for external user accounts in Office 365 SharePoint:

  1.  Within your list(s), create a Person or Group column type (mine is named Account Name)
  2. Populate this column with the email address of the external user (example: and check the entry)
  3. Add a User Filter web part to the page and for the Select Value to Provide, select Current User Name.
  4. Connect the User Filter to the Web Part(s) on the page with the Consumer Field Name being the column created in Step 1 (in this case Account Name)
  5. The Web Part(s) on the page are now filtered based on the current user

Reference and Background:
Let’s examine an external account that has been shared with this site. (Note: this SharePoint site has been shared with outside users by selection Site Actions and then selecting Share Site). All of the external users have Hotmail email accounts to minimize and possible issues. Next, I go to Site Actions à Site Settings à Site Permissions and select the group that my outside user accounts are a member of (in this case it is my Members group). I then select the username for one of these external accounts. Notice the account name (something similar to i:0#.f|membership| The name row is the name from the email account and then there is a Work email row which is populated with the same email account referenced in the Account row.
What does that information have to do with my user filter? In looking at the account information, I thought that I could create a column within my lists to hold the external shared account email address and then pass the work email from the user filter to this column. However, this approach did not work for me. The only way that I found this to work was to use the solution stated above. Please note that I am sure there are some scripts that can be run to do this same thing but I wanted to stay “out of the box” as much as possible with this solution.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How the Cloud Can Bring Sunshine

Every day it happens – a computer refuses to boot and another hard drive crashes. Over the past week, I have deal with two such incidents and it reminded me of how things have changed for the better in the computer industry.
Back in the day, so to speak, reinstalling a computer and getting all of the old data off of a crashed computer was an ordeal (for both the user and technician). First, the installation CD’s would have to be found and then finding the installation source for all of the programs.  However, the cloud has changed all of that.
Thanks to Office 365 and SkyDrive a computer crash doesn’t mean the end of the world. I had my computer user up and running in less than an hour! Sure, the operating system has to be reinstalled but after that all of the necessary data was in the cloud. Office installation – cloud, user files – cloud.
With the next version of Office 365 on the horizon and the connection with Sky Drive improving, my life will be even easier. A business of any size wants to minimize down time and Office 365 definitely addresses that challenge.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Office 365 SharePoint Survey Part 2

In my post earlier this week, I went through how to create a SharePoint Survey. Now that the survey is created, there are several options that may provide beneficial and enable us to secure the data.

To access the Survey options, navigate to the survey -> select Settings -> Survey Settings:

Next, select Advanced Settings:

There are several important options here. First, what responses can be read by the users – just the responses the user created or can they read all responses. The type of survey typically dictates this option. The second option determines if a user can create and edit responses that were created by themselves or any of the responses. Typically, the create responses and edit responses that were created by the user is the appropriate selection.
The second row of choices center around the survey results appearing in the search results. Most of the time the surveys that I created didn’t need to be seen by everybody, so I typically set this to No.
The next option allows for the survey to be downloaded to offline clients.
The final option allows for the survey questions to appear in a modal popup as opposed to just a normal looking SharePoint page.